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Last year's White Sox list

The State of the System: This system is so top heavy that it’s doing somersaults, but the top three compete with any system in baseball. The pitchers have big upside, but the boppers lack bop.

The Top Ten

  1. SS Tim Anderson
  2. RHP Carson Fulmer
  3. RHP Spencer Adams
  4. OF Micker Adolfo
  5. 3B Trey Michalczewski
  6. LHP Jordan Guerrero
  7. 2B Jake Peter
  8. RHP Tyler Danish
  9. OF Adam Engel
  10. RHP Thad Lowry

1. Tim Anderson, SS
DOB: 06/23/1993
Height/Weight: 6’1” 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 17th overall in the 2013 MLB Draft, East Central Community College (MS); signed for $2.164 million
Previous Ranking(s): #2 (Org.), #22 (Midseason top 50)
2015 Stats: .312/.350/.429, 5 HR and 49 SB in 550 PA at Double-A Birmingham
Future Tools: 70 speed, 60 hit, 50+ glove
Role: 60—First-division regular at shortstop

Anderson was one of the best athletes in the 2013 draft and his baseball skills have caught up faster than even his biggest supporters foresaw. His quick wrists lead to plus bat speed, and while there is some length to his swing, his fluidity and coordination allow him to make hard contact to every part of the field. There’s also natural lift to his swing and though his size limits the power, he should put the ball into gaps with enough pop to keep pitchers honest. While he has the hit tool and speed for a potential leadoff hitter, he might not have the patience. He rarely walks, and there are contact issues here—particularly on breaking balls on the outer half of the plate—that could limit the on-base percentage. Anderson leverages his impressive speed well: bunting for hits and constantly applying pressure as an unrelenting stolen base threat.

Anderson has also made progress with his defense over the past few years. His athleticism and arm strength are both good enough to keep him in the middle infield, and while the hands and footwork aren’t elite, the package is good enough to project as a shortstop. If he was to move off the position, center field would make the most sense, as his arm and speed suggest he would be an asset there.

Fantasy Impact: Long one of my favorite prospects in a fantasy sense, Anderson has proven to be less of a project than initially anticipated—which is the good part. However, projections for his power continue to trend down, and right now 8-10 homers seems more likely than 20. Of course, with 40-plus steal potential and a strong hit tool, even the low end of that power will play very well in fantasy regardless of whether he maintains the SS next to his name.

Major league ETA: 2016

2. Carson Fulmer, RHP
DOB: 12/13/1993
Height/Weight: 6’1” 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted eighth overall in the 2015 MLB Draft, Vanderbilt University (TN); signed for $3.4706 million
Previous Ranking(s): No. 26 in the Top 125 MLB Draft prospects
2015 Stats: 1.96 ERA, 23 IP, 17 H, 9 BB, 26 K at Arizona Instructional League and High-A Winston Salem
Future Tools: 70 fastball, 60 curveball, 50+ change
Role: 55—No. 3 starter or high-leverage reliever

In terms of pure stuff, Fulmer’s arsenal was as good as any pitcher’s in the 2015 draft. His fastball sits 92-96 mph, with as much life as any heater you’ll see. He can cut it, run it, sink it and manipulate it with any other form of movement you can find. It doesn’t always finish in the strike zone, but there’s enough velocity/deception to make it a true swing and miss pitch.

Fulmer’s curve is also plus, and at his best he can use its hard bite to miss bats and locate it for a called strike. The change is the weakest of his three offerings—and the one he uses the least—and he’ll need to show more feel for the pitch as he advances. Because of his arm speed, though, there’s no reason to think this shouldn’t be at least an average pitch in time.

Fulmer has the stuff to start, but his command and mechanics make it less of a sure thing. There’s a ton of effort to the right-hander’s delivery, and while it has toned down a bit since his freshman year, the moving parts and violent arm path are not what you typically see from a starter. It also affects the former Commodore’s command—though he is still able to throw strikes and limit walks. He should start in the short term, and succeed in either role.

Fantasy Impact: When you just focus on Fulmer’s stuff, it’s not difficult to envision an SP2 future with very strong strikeout numbers. Yet, the elements that Chris mentions above have to play a factor here, and his reliever odds are just barely enough to knock him out of the top-10 in dynasty drafts this offseason.

Major league ETA: 2017

3. Spencer Adams, RHP
DOB: 03/31/1995
Height/Weight: 6’3” 170 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 44th overall in the 2014 MLB Draft, White County HS (Cleveland, GA); signed for $1.2827 million
Previous Ranking(s): #4 (Org.)
2015 Stats: 2.99 ERA, 129.1 IP, 142 H, 18 BB, 96 K at Low-A Kannapolis and High-A Winston Salem
Future Tools: 60 fastball, 55 slider, 55 command
Role: 55—No. 3 starter

Adams followed up a dominant 2014 campaign with a solid one in 2015. The former second-round pick will show four pitches, led by a projectable fastball that already sits 92-94, and will occasionally touch 96. All three secondary offerings flash at least average, with the slider showing above-average thanks to its depth and tilt. Both the curve and change aren’t far behind, with the latter hinting at some room for further refinement into 55 territory as well.

Adams doesn’t have the kind of frontline raw stuff that Fulmer features, but he’s the more likely of the two to remain a starter long term thanks to his command profile. He repeats his delivery and arm slot on a consistent basis, and he hits his spots on both sides of the plate with all four of his pitches.

The ceiling isn’t special, but there’s enough upside to augment a valuable floor and call him one of the three best prospects in this system.

Fantasy Impact: Now we start to get to Mid-Rotation World, which is really just a cross between Abstract Thought and Imagination Land. Adams doesn’t have the ceiling to warrant a valuation near Fulmer’s from a fantasy standpoint, even though they share a similar real-world projection. If it all works, he could hover around a 3.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and strikeouts that fill you up just enough to keep you from snacking on those pretzels in the cabinet, but not enough to do it again in 20 minutes.

Major league ETA: 2017

4. Micker Adolfo, OF
DOB: 09/11/1996
Height/Weight: 6’3” 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: Signed by Chicago White Sox July 2013 out of Dominican Republic for $1.6 million
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: .253/.323/.313, 5 HR, 3 SB in 93 PA at complex-level AZL
Future Tools: 70 arm, 60 power, 55 glove
Role: 50—Average regular in right field

Adolfo was handed one of the biggest signing bonuses of the international season in 2013, and though he’s very raw, there were positive signs before the young outfielder went down with a gruesome fractured fibula injury. The calling card here is power, as Adolfo possesses strong wrists, plus bat speed, and natural loft, giving him a chance for big power. It’s mostly to the pull side at present, but the extension suggests he should be able to make hard contact to the opposite-field gaps in time. While his hit tool lags behind the power, Adolfo has made adjustments there, as well. The length of his swing means he’s never going to be a guy who hits .300, but he picks up spin well and the swing plane allows him to make hard contact as he gets his hands forward without many moving pieces.

Adolfo is currently an above-average runner, but the frame suggests that speed grade will be fleeting. Right field is the likely landing spot, thanks to a double-plus throwing arm.

Fantasy Impact: Power potential in rookie ball is intriguing, but when it’s so far away, it has to be pretty special to start investing in shallower formats. Adolfo isn’t there yet, and while he could be a 25-30 homer bat in time (especially if he one day calls the Cell home), he’s not at the point yet where I’d call him a top-200 fantasy prospect.

Major league ETA: 2019

5. Trey Michalczewski, 3B
DOB: 02/27/1995
Height/Weight: 6’3” 210 lbs.
Bats/Throws: S/R
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the seventh round of the 2013 MLB Draft, Jenks HS (Jenks, OK); signed for $500,000
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: .259/.335/.395, 7 HR, 4 SB in 532 PA at High-A Winston Salem
Future Tools: 60 arm, 50-plus power
Role: 45—Fringe-average regular at third

There’s no standout tool in Michalczewski’s offensive bag or something that sounds better than offensive bag, but there’s no real weakness, either. The switch-hitting third baseman has a smooth, simple swing from both sides of the plate, with enough hip rotation and loft to allow for 15-18 homers and plenty of doubles. His approach and pitch recognition both took big steps forward in 2015, and he cut down the swing length while showing a willingness to use the opposite field more often.

Michalczewski isn’t a great athlete, but he does have solid instincts in the field. He has soft hands and an above-average arm— though he isn’t immune to the mistakes we usually see from teenagers at third base. Right field or first base are the likely fallback positions if he can’t stick at the hot corner.

Fantasy Impact: In deep formats, where 250-300 prospects are owned, there’s enough here to see if he can take a step forward as he gets a taste of the upper minors. Besides that, it’s a pretty pedestrian profile that gets wrangled off the waiver wire in 16-team leagues and shallower each year, and that’s if he is a third baseman.

Major league ETA: 2017

6. Jordan Guerrero, RHP
DOB: 05/31/1994
Height/Weight: 6’3” 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the 15th round of the 2012 MLB draft, Moorpark HS (Moorpark, CA); signed for $100,000
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: 3.08 ERA, 149 IP, 124 H, 31 BB, 148 K at Low-A Kannapolis and High-A Winston Salem
Future Tools: 55 fastball, 55 change
Role: 45—Back-end starter

Guerrero was a relative unknown coming into last season, but showed stuff that suggested he could pitch in the back of a rotation someday. The fastball typically sits 89-91, though he can run it up to 94, and he’ll also cut the pitch to bear into the hands of right-handed hitters. He has excellent feel for a tumbling changeup that he can throw to hitters of either persuasion thanks to how well he sells it with his consistent arm speed. His curveball doesn’t have the necessary depth or spin to be much more than a fringe-average pitch. He pounds the strike zone with all three pitches, but is loose within it, and will leave pitches up in the zone when he doesn’t finish the delivery.

Guerrero will likely start the year in the Birmingham rotation, and if he can put up similar numbers while showing the same quality arsenal it’s entirely possible he could pitch in the White Sox rotation at some point in 2016. The following year is more likely though.

Fantasy Impact: A pitcher that knows what he’s doing with a changeup can end up with significantly higher minor league strikeout numbers (especially in A-ball) than you can expect as they rise up the ranks. Guerrero is no exception, and it’s why he’s not worth owning in anything but AL-only dynasty leagues.

Major league ETA: 2017

7. Jake Peter, 2B
DOB: 04/05/1993
Height/Weight: 6’1” 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 MLB Draft, Creighton University (NE); signed for $203,800
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: .260/.330/.348, 3 HR, 23 SB in 562 PA at High-A Winston-Salem
Future Tools: 70 arm, 55 speed, 55 glove
Role: 45—Below-average regular at second base/utility infielder

Peter was a two-way player who many preferred as a relief prospect, but the White Sox’ decision to move him to second base has been a good one thus far. He’s a patient hitter who rarely swings at pitches outside of the strike zone and he uses a quick, line-drive stroke to shoot the ball to all fields. His above-average speed plays up thanks to exceptional reads, and he’ll rarely get a bad jump on stolen base attempts. He’s sure-handed in the field with a plus-plus throwing arm that suggests he could play shortstop, but he’s likely to stick on the right side of the infield due to arm issues suffered in college that lead to fatigue on longer throws. Any of the outfield positions could be a possibility, as well.

Peter doesn’t have the upside of any of the names listed above him, and the offensive skill set suggests he’ll be little more than a utility player. But because he’s so good with the glove and on the bases, his floor is as high as any player in the system. Keep in mind that Peter is still relatively new to everyday play, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if he makes a leap.

Fantasy Impact: Where there’s even a little speed, AL-only leaguers should take notice. But aside from those poor souls, Peter is only noteworthy for having two first names.

Major league ETA: 2017

8. Tyler Danish, RHP
DOB: 09/12/1994
Height/Weight: 6’0” 205 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 55th overall in the 2013 MLB Draft, Durant HS (Plant City, FL); signed for $1.0018 million
Previous Ranking(s): #3 (Org.)
2015 Stats: 4.50 ERA, 142 IP, 60 BB, 90 K at Double-A Birmingham
Future Tools: 60 fastball, 60 change
Role: 45—Back-end starter/high-leverage reliever

When Danish is firing on all cylinders, it’s very impressive. He’ll show two plus pitches, a 90-92 mph fastball that features heavy sink and a change that has split-like action to the bottom of the plate. He also features a slider that flashes average, though it doesn’t have the same type of swing-and-miss potential as the aforementioned pitches. Unfortunately, that version of Danish is rarely on display. The fastball velocity isn’t always consistent, and as good as the change is, he rarely locates it for a strike. There are significant delivery issues here as well, as the arm action isn’t clean, and the combination of his low slot and high-effort mechanics suggest that the bullpen is the better landing spot.

You can’t blame the White Sox for seeing if Danish can start, as his 60-60-50 arsenal suggests he could be a no. 3 starter if everything goes right. If he continues to struggle missing bats and throwing strikes consistently, it shouldn’t shock anyone if he is shifted to the bullpen to see if the stuff plays up in shorter spurts.

Fantasy Impact: There’s just not much of interest here, after Danish has exhausted a good amount of his “let’s see if he can be a starter” time. If he’s a reliever, which looks likely at this point, he could be interesting down the road, but not at this point.

Major league ETA: 2017

9. Adam Engel, OF
DOB: 12/09/1991
Height/Weight: 6’1” 215 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the 19th round of the 2013 MLB Draft, University of Louisville (KY); signed for $100,000
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: .251/.335/.369, 7 HR, 65 SB in 608 PA at High-A Winston-Salem
Future Tools: 70 speed, 55 glove
Role: 45—Fourth outfielder

Well, that escalated quickly. Engel dominated the Arizona Fall League, posting a 1.165 OPS and stealing ten bases on his way to winning the MVP. He’s always had plus-plus speed and he is an excellent base runner, as seen in the stolen base totals above. He also showed that he was more willing to work counts this year, making him a potential top-of-the-order hitter. On the flip side, there’s very little power here (despite present strength) and serious contact issues from a lengthy swing. He is a competent outfielder in center, with enough arm strength to keep runners honest and solid-if-unspectacular instincts.

If Engel shows a semblance of the hit tool on display in the AFL he’ll jump up this list, but it’s more likely this is a fourth outfielder who can help you at all three outfield spots and annoy the heck out of pitchers when he’s on base.

Fantasy Impact: At this point, Engel’s steals are our mirage in the desert—a semblance of fantasy value off in the distance. However, as we approach his profile, it looks less and less like someone who has mixed league impact and someone who looks more and more like a reserve who is generally owned for his speed in very deep roto formats.

Major league ETA: 2017

10. Thad Lowry, RHP
DOB: 10/04/1994
Height/Weight: 6’4” 215 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 MLB Draft, Spring HS (Spring, TX); signed for $400,000
Previous Ranking(s): Unranked
2015 Stats: 4.48 ERA, 150.2 IP, 158 H, 40 BB, 94 K at Low-A Kannapolis
Future Tools: 60 fastball, 50+ slider
Role: 40—Backend starter/reliever

Stat-scouting is (correctly) frowned upon, but a pitcher who posted an ERA near 4.5 while repeating a lower level is, well, not great. That’s not to say that Lowry doesn’t have quality stuff; his fastball will get up to 97 with run and quality plane, but generally sits 92-94. He’ll also show a hard slider with tilt that flashes above-average, and a change with split-like action that offers enough movement to induce grounders despite a lack of deception. He’s a strike thrower and his command could be good enough to convince you that he’ll stick in the rotation. The stuff, however, may not. There’s a good chance he ends up pitching in the seventh inning rather than every fifth day.

Fantasy Impact: Yes, because his name is Thad and that’s deserving of respect, but nope.

Major league ETA: 2017

Five who are just interesting:

Courtney Hawkins, OF – There was so much to like about Hawkins coming out of high school. The power, athleticism, and production were all there. Since then, the power has gone backward, as have his arm strength and defensive projection, and his approach remains a mess. Without major adjustments, it’s unlikely Hawkins is anything more than a bench bat at the major league level – and he might not even be that.

Jacob May, OF – May is the fastest “legit” prospect in the system, a borderline 80 runner who uses his speed to chase down balls in center field, beat out bunts, and steal bases. What that speed can’t do is fix his swing. May has zero power from either side of the plate and because he chases so often out of the zone he rarely makes hard contact. His arm is also below average, so it really is just the speed and glove that make him a potential starting center fielder. But, hey, speed and glove.

Corey Zangari, 1B – Zangari is a fascinating example of why you can’t average out the tools, as he’s either plus, below-average or 20 at every category. The good: He has light-tower power potential from the right side because of the strength and leverage in his swing. He also has one of the strongest throwing arms you’ll see from a first baseman, as he was clocked up to 96 in high school. The bad: He’s sundial slow, there are serious contact issues, and he doesn’t have good feel for defense at any position. He’d be much more intriguing if he could have stayed behind the plate, but plus-plus power is still plus-plus power.

Jordan Stephens, RHP Tommy John surgery pushed Stephens from a likely top-100 selection to the third round last summer. When healthy, Stephens will show two plus pitches, led by a 93-95 mph fastball that will tick up into the high 90s when he reaches back. The curveball is the second plus offering, arriving in the low 80s with good spin and late downward break. If he’s going to start at the next level—and reports are that they intend to put him in a rotation this spring—the change is going to have to get better, as it’s a 40 offering right now without great deception or movement. If Chicago moves him to the bullpen, though, this could be the type of guy you see pitching in the eighth or ninth inning.

Jhoandro Alfaro, C – The White Sox have made a stronger effort in the international market the past few years, and Alfaro appears to be one of their better gets from last July’s class. The switch-hitting backstop handles the bat well, understands the strike zone, and has a frame that suggests he’ll end up with at least average power from both sides of the plate. He’s going to make his money in the squat, though. He’s a lock to stick behind the plate thanks to a plus arm and improving-but-still-solid receiving skills. Like most IFAs there’s a load of work to be done before we see him in a full-season uniform, but this is one of the rare high-floor, medium-upside players in this system.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/90 or later)

  1. Carlos Rodon
  2. Tim Anderson
  3. Carson Fulmer
  4. ​Spencer Adams
  5. Micker Adolfo
  6. Trey Michalczewski
  7. Jordan Guerrero
  8. Jake Peter
  9. Tyler Danish
  10. Adam Engel

It isn’t quite fair to call Chicago’s 40-man roster old. Key offensive contributors Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Brett Lawrie are all under 30, as is Todd Frazier for a few more weeks. Rotation stalwarts Chris Sale and Jose Quintana turn 27 in the next few months and none of Chicago’s bullpen contributors are older than Zach Duke, who will be 32 on opening day.

But nobody will confuse the White Sox for a young team either, and the club has only a handful of kids who project to take the field in 2016. The jewels on the farm lean young, and while it’s not impossible to foresee a few of the headliners joining the Pale Hose this summer, the system won’t really bear fruit until 2017. With the offseason departures of Frankie Montas, Micah Johnson and Trayce Thompson, Rodon is the only player under 25 who figures to play in a non-complementary role next year.

While some may stump for Anderson—a first division talent at an up-the-middle position—as Chicago’s most valuable 25U piece, Rodon’s big league success earns him the nod here. Widely considered the top talent in the 2014 draft, Chicago was fortunate to grab him with the third-overall pick, and the White Sox brought him up for good after just 34 innings of minor-league seasoning. Relying heavily on a mid-90s fastball and a tight, double-plus slider, Rodon had his ups and downs as a rookie. On the positive side, hitters struggled to square him up: opponents batted just .246 with 11 homers, striking out once per inning. Oftentimes though, Rodon was too unwilling to give in, nibbling his way into long innings, short outings and hitters’ counts. Already a good no. 3 starter, the southpaw can develop into more if he can improve his changeup and work in the zone more often.

While none of the other 25Us on Chicago’s 40-man roster grace the organization’s top-ten list, there are a few players who should feature for the big league club at some point. Carlos Sanchez started at second base for most of last season, and will likely fight with fellow 25-year-old Leury Garcia for playing time in 2016. Sanchez has the upper hand, but after looking overmatched at the plate last season, he projects as a utility player going forward. Chris Beck debuted last season and he may have earned a longer look if he hadn’t suffered an elbow injury in June. He’s probably a swing-man in the long run, but on his day, he’ll get grounders with a sneaky-quick sinker. It’s not clear that Jacob Turner deserves a mention here, but too late.

Finally, 24-year-old Avisail Garcia is currently pegged as Chicago’s starting right fielder. Garcia has shown some aptitude for hitting southpaws, but hasn’t driven the ball enough to compensate for poor defense and an immature approach at the plate. If you’re bullish on his power potential, you could justify slotting him ahead of Engel, but after 1,100 PA’s of poor plate discipline, middling power, and sub-replacement level performance, I’m out. The White Sox are still trying to bring in a corner outfielder this offseason, and if they do, Garcia would presumably shuffle between right field, the bench, and Triple-A Charlotte. – Brendan Gawlowski

The Executives

Executive Vice President: Kenny Williams
General Manager: Rick Hahn
Director, Amateur Scouting: Nick Hostetler
Director of Player Development: Nick Capra

This isn’t saying a lot, but over the past few seasons the White Sox have done a better job of accruing talent in the draft—particularly in the early rounds—and much of that credit goes to former Scouting Director Doug Laumann. The organization has shifted away from taking players like Keon Barnum and Keenyn Walker—players with large upside but with too many red-flags to ever realistically reach the ceiling. Hostetler was one of Laumann’s most trusted scouts in his time with the organization—he’s been with the White Sox since 2000—so there shouldn’t be a massive switch in philosophy with the change.

Don Cooper gets most of the credit for the pitching, but Capra, Del Mathews and Curt Hasler all get positive reviews from those I have spoken with for their roles in developing the pitching internally. They take chances with guys who have unorthodox—and often violent—deliveries, and make just enough adjustments to allow them to pitch effectively in starting roles. That’s why someone like Fulmer fits so well in this system; if any organization can figure out how to make that work over 180-200 innings, it’s the White Sox.